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Facebook, and its extended network, provides incredible reach for marketers to find, engage with, and influence their target audience. The network has become an indispensible part of the digital advertising mix – making up the vast majority of social advertising spend (comprising of  67% of all social ad budgets polled by eMarketer) and emerging as a leading platform for video ads.

However, managing Facebook has become increasingly more complex for advertisers with the constant introduction of new objectives, ad placements, and creative types. Hard as we may try, it’s virtually impossible to monitor, report on, and optimize ad campaigns 24/7.

In order to free marketers from continuous optimization and monitoring tasks, Facebook and several Facebook Marketing Partners have developed Automated Rules.

What are Facebook Ads Automated Rules?

Facebook Automated Rules allow marketers to turn previously manual and mundane optimization tasks into automated jobs that run in the background. This allows for continual monitoring and optimization of ad accounts, campaigns, and ad creative without the need for manual action.

Unlike Full Automation solutions, like auto bidding, in which a user opts into a black box algorithm, Facebook Automated Rules are Rule-Based.

Rule-Based optimization allows advertisers to choose which metrics (KPIs) they care about and trigger alerts or scheduled optimization rules based on the trends (performance and time duration) they wish to examine.

Facebook Ads Automation Types

While there are dozens of creative & unique ways to utilize Automated Rules, they can be categorized under four main pillars:

  1. Performance Alerts
  2. Ad Set Scheduling
  3. Optimization Rules
  4. Ad Creative Testing

In this post, we’ll explore each automation type and reveal some must-try examples along the way.

1. Performance Alerts

Receive an email alert with a list of the affected campaigns, ad sets, or ad creative that are experiencing positive or negative performance trends. These trends could be high/low CTRs, budget spend, or Cost Per Conversion, for example.

Facebook Automation ad set spend monitoring email alert

Alerts to Try

Ad Set Spend Pacing Alert

Let’s say you have a group of ad sets within a campaign, each with a total monthly budget of $500. You want to be alerted if your ad sets are trending toward overspending or underspending your total monthly budget.

Track Underpacing Ad Sets

Apply rule to: Ad set(s)
Conditions: If lifetime spend is < $70
Time Range: 7 days
Action: Send notification only

With this rule, you’re saying that you want to be alerted if any of the selected ad sets have spent less than 60% of their total daily budget, over the course of the last seven days.

Track Overpacing Ad Sets

Apply rule to: Ad set(s)
Conditions: If lifetime spend is > $110
Time Range: 7 days
Action: Send notification only

With this rule, you’re asking to be alerted if any of the selected ad sets have spent more than 95% of their total daily budget, over the course of the last seven days.

2. Ad Set Scheduling

While Facebook provides the ability to target and reach your audience 24/7, performance can greatly differ by day of the week or hour of the day. Cost-conscious advertisers may find it’s best to advertise in peak performance hours – as opposed to running evergreen ad sets – in order to keep cost per conversion trends low.

Learn how to analyze Facebook Ads performance by day of the week, and hour of the day, in Google Analytics in this step-by-step post.

Facebook ad set scheduling rules

Scheduling Ad Sets in Facebook Ads Manager

During new ad set creation, ensure to select the lifetime budget option, as opposed to a daily budget, which will unlock the option to set a schedule for your ads.

Note: With Facebook Marketing Partner solutions, a lifetime budget restriction is not required and scheduling of ad sets on daily budget settings is allowed.

3. Optimization Rules

This 3rd rule type allows you to set the conditions for when you would like technology to make an optimization on your behalf – sending a notification of the change that occurred without the advertiser having to make the change manually. If you have optimizations that you find yourself making over and over based on specific criteria, this is the rule type for you!

Facebook automated rules to pause high CPA ad creative

Rules to Try

Pause High CPA Ad Creative Rule

Create a rule that sweeps through all your active ad creative within a campaign, pausing ads with high cost per conversion trends (such as $100+ per lead).

Apply rule to: Active ads in 1 campaign

Conditions: IF Lifetime Spend is greater than $200.00 AND CTR (link click) is < 1% AND Cost per Lead (Facebook Pixel) is greater $100

*Note: Cost Per Lead can be replaced by any cost per website conversion metric you prefer

Time range: Last 7 days

Action: Turn off ad

Boost Low CTA Ad Set Budgets

To drive more conversions at attractive prices, allocate a small budget increase to high performing ad sets that have low Cost per Website Conversion trends.

Facebook automated rules to increase low CPA ad set budgets

Apply rule to: Active ad sets in 1 campaign

Conditions: IF lifetime spend is > $200.00 AND Results are > 5, AND Cost Per Lead (Facebook Pixel) is < $45.00

*Note: Cost Per Lead can be replaced by any cost per website conversion metric you prefer

Action: Increase daily budget by 5%

  • Maximum daily budget cap: $90

*Note: this is where creating budget pacing alerts can come in handy for additional monitoring of budget spend.

4. Ad Creative Testing

Great ad copy can have a profound effect on overall campaign and ad set performance. It’s important for advertisers to think about testing different creative against their target audience. The goal: to reveal the messaging and timing that result in generating the most qualified leads or sales.

The elements of ad creative testing:

  • Multivariate testing
    • Testing different headlines, description copy, images, CTAs, and destination links.
  • Ad flighting / sequencing
    • Group, align, and schedule clusters of ads to be triggered based on performance or time duration.
  • Ad rotation rules
    • Rotate in different ad creative based on performance or time duration, without specific ordering.

Try Sequencing Your Ad Creative

Schedule a group of ad creative to show in a logical series of steps, based on time or performance.

Example: Show your targeting audience a group of ads by step.

Step #1: Sponsored posts featuring best fit blog content.

Step #2: Sponsored posts highlighting best fit, email gated whitepapers.

Step #3: Sponsored posts highlighting upcoming webinars.

Step #4: Dark sponsored posts that lead to a demo request page for your service.

Setting Up Sequencing in Facebook Editor

In select ad accounts, sequencing as a delivery option has been unlocked for Reach & Frequency campaign objectives. Unfortunately, for many advertisers, ourselves included, it’s a waiting game as access is slowly being rolled out. Learn more.

Facebook ad sequencing

If unlocked, follow these steps to set up sequencing:

  • Create a new campaign with a Reach objective type.
  • Create a new ad set, and accompanied ad creative.
    • Ensure the new ad set and ad creative are posted.
  • Revisit the ad set and, if unlocked, the delivery settings will reveal the option for “Sequencing.”
  • Select the order of your ads to show, then save and take it live!

While ad sequencing has a lot of potential, the current Facebook offering is restricted to just one objective at a time, and only available to a limited amount of accounts.

Facebook Marketing Partners, such as AdStage (full transparency: I’m the CEO), offer flexible options for creating an advertising sequence.

Setting Up Sequencing in AdStage

Flighting in AdStage

  1. Select “Flighting” as your Automated Rule type.
  2. Select which layer you’d like to create a sequence from: the campaign, ad set, or ad creative level.
  3. Select your associated ad account.
  4. Choose the Flighting schedule for your first set of ads, known as a step.
  5. Select which campaigns, ad sets, and or ad creative to assign to a step.
  6. Create and organize your steps.
  7. Select how to run the rule, such as “Run and Email the Results.”
  8. Finish and Save to launch the Flighting sequence.

Wrapping Up

Since Facebook’s Automated Rules allow marketers to select the exact metric conditions, lookback windows, and automated actions to trigger, they provide an exceptional layer of customization – empowering marketers to automate their most time-intensive optimization tasks and focus instead on strategy, audience targeting, and new ad creative creation.